NEWS

Top judge orders inquiry into Siemens case delay

TAGS: Corruption

A day after the Siemens cash-for-contracts trial was indefinitely postponed on a technicality, prompting a heated exchange among Greece’s political parties, a top judge on Wednesday ordered an investigation into possible mistakes made by appeals court prosecutors in the case.

Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou, who on Wednesday met with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the occasion of her appointment earlier this month, has asked deputy prosecutor Anna Zairi to conduct an investigation into the reasons behind the delay.

Meanwhile Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos is expected to meet with Dimitriou on Thursday to speed up trial proceedings due to the exceptional nature of the case.

An Athens court on Tuesday decided to adjourn the proceedings, saying that the indictment ruling had not been translated into French and German for the one French-Swiss and 13 German defendants in the case.

Repeated delays have raised concerns that the offenses could expire under the statute of limitations. The development is seen as a potential embarrassment for the leftist-led government, which has been keen to style itself as a corruption fighter. A meeting of senior government officials under Tsipras on Wednesday was reportedly told that the case could damage the government’s purported “moral advantage.”

The coalition Wednesday came under fire from the conservative New Democracy opposition, which said that if the government is looking for culprits behind the delay then “it needs to look at itself in the mirror.” PASOK also slammed the government’s “inaction” and “tragic mistakes.”

In a related development, it was announced Wednesday that the trial of former transport minister Tasos Mantelis and four other defendants accused of taking kickbacks from Siemens in 1998 and 2000 will have to restart from the beginning due to the death of appeals court judge and president of the court Angelis Triantopoulos.

No backup president had been appointed for the trial, which began in 2013.

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